Decipher and Compare Financial Aid Offers With NASFAA Resource

Students and families can use NASFAA’s Award Notification Comparison Worksheet to make more informed decisions when choosing a college.

January 24, 2019 — As we head into February, many students are working to wrap up their college and financial aid applications, but there are still important decisions to be made before selecting which college to attend. One of the biggest factors in choosing a college is cost, and comparing financial aid award notifications can be tricky for students and families. NASFAA’s Award Notification Comparison Worksheet can help make the process easier for students in the coming months as they receive financial aid award letters.

Different schools have different resources, so financial aid offers can vary greatly from school to school. There are several components of an award notification students and parents should consider. Some colleges might separate financial aid into federal, state, and institutional categories, while others might separate the types of aid by gift aid — like grants and scholarships — and self-help aid, such as loans and work-study. Financial aid and costs can also vary greatly from school to school.

NASFAA’s Award Notification Comparison Worksheet is a useful tool that students and families can use to decipher different award notifications and compare them on a level playing field. The worksheet gives students tips to follow when comparing financial aid offers — explaining the difference between gift aid and self-help aid, checking for eligibility requirements to maintain grants and scholarships, and calculating out-of-pocket costs for school. It also includes a glossary of terms commonly found in award notifications.

“Students and families need clear and accurate information when it comes to making such a monumental financial decision,” said NASFAA President Justin Draeger. “And while the types and amounts of financial aid offers may differ from one school to another, NASFAA members adhere to standards that should allow students and parents to make apple-to-apple comparisons. NASFAA resources can help students and families make the choice that’s right for them.”

NASFAA policy experts and financial aid administrators can discuss what students and their families need to know about financial aid awards and how to compare them. For more information, contact us at 202-785-6959 or [email protected] to set up an interview.

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 20,000 financial aid professionals at nearly 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every ten undergraduates in the United States. Based in Washington, D.C., NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. For more information, visit

Publication Date: 1/24/2019

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